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That fateful night when Mark Zuckerberg laid the foundations of what later become Facebook, he perhaps had no idea what a monster his drunken coding would turn out to be! Easily the media phenomenon of the century so far, Facebook has become a necessity so central to the identities of people that there are calls from civilian groups to declare the virtual world a nation in itself! OK that last bit was a cruel joke we got in our Facebook profile’s inbox a few months ago, but the fact reveals plenty about the kind of emotional dependence the youth of today have formed on the social media network.
Though several businesses have tried to cash in on the popularity of Facebook (including game developers Zynga which rose to international fame with Farmville), the so-called “real world” had been relatively untouched by the madness the site inspires. But that is all set to change with German auto giants Volkswagen announcing the creation of a “Fanwagen” that is basically a one-off edition of one of their classic models that would be offered with a variety of Facebook-themed gimmicks!
Launched by the Netherlands-based unit of Volkswagen, an advertising campaign on the company’s page on Facebook urged fans to vote and choose from between a class VW Beetle and a VW T1 Bus which would be furnished with features that voters chose by hitting the “like” button. Ultimately, 33,000 Volkswagen fans chose the iconic T1 over the Beetle (perhaps because of T1 featured in the hit TV series That 70s Show), and the one-off edition would also be offered to a lucky fan for free.
Though die-hard fans of Facebook would argue that the lack of a dedicated central console with a dedicated touchscreen and internet connectivity makes the Fanwagen something of a damp squib, we like to think of the Facebook-inspired features of the vehicle as being a retro-fied vision of the social media phenomenon. For example, the dash of the Fanwagen comes with a ‘feed-o-matic’ which lets you check the news feed from your Facebook page, but instead of viewing it on a web “page” you get the feeds printed out on a real paper page! Similarly, the horn has been assigned the “poke” function while the chat function can be activated by adjusting the rear view mirror towards the passengers in the back seats!
The VW Fanwagen also comes with Facebook-themed “privacy settings”, which lets the user inside determine whether they want to share what they do on the inside with “all” (window shades fully open), with “friends” (window shades pulled halfway down), and “only me” (window shades pulled down). The label on the door handles allows you to “add friends” while the side doors of the model have been made into a “wall” where users can post updates and even pictures using the instant camera the Fanwagen comes with.
The glove compartment has been dubbed the “inbox” and you can delete a private message by simply taking it out of the box, and a panel underneath the license plate at the rear of the vehicle will let drivers update their relationship status with a rotating scroll wheel! The voting for the ‘Fanwagen’ version of the ‘T1′ is now closed for Facebook users from other parts of the world though users in the Netherlands can still enter the competition and win themselves a special edition Fanwagen till December 18th, 2011.
This special ed Fanwagen will be delivered to the lucky winner with a map containing the locations of all their Facebook friends! Oh, how we envy that yet-undeclared rascal already!